Machu Picchu

Trip Start Feb 07, 2006
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Trip End Aug 07, 2006


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Thursday, June 1, 2006

Make sure to check out Andrea's Travel Blog for more stories and photos of our trip!

Cusco and the sacred valley

After Puno, we headed to Cusco where we were to start out 4 day Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu. The first thing we noticed was that it was cold! Very cold!... and no, being Canadians didn't mean that we were used to it either.

The first night we froze in our rooms as we tried to sleep under 3 llama wool blankets without any luck.

Despite the stunning view from our window over all of Cusco, we moved to a new, warmer room with hot showers the next day.

We had heard Cusco was a nice place and juggled our schedule to spend more time there. We were glad we did! Cusco was very gringo friendly which was a nice change. Tons of great food, English movies, beautiful churches and large plazas, not to mention Guinness! The comforts of home in a stunning colonial town surrounded by Incan history and ruins were just what we were looking for.

Pisac

The small town of Pisac was only 45 minutes away by local bus from Cusco. The town was small and situated next to a small river which snaked through green lush mountains. High above the town was the Incan fort we came to see. The fort is remarkably perched high above on a mountain top which had a great vantage point. From the top it was easy to see that the great view would make it difficult to sneak up on this fortifications. Along the sides of the mountains shelves and large Incan cultivation fields were carved into the mountain sides.

We enjoyed the long walk along the fort but took a wrong turn at one point and ended up scrambling down a shear drop through cacti and nearly falling off the damn mountain as a local guide stood at the bottom scratching his head and wondering why we hadn't taken the regular path.

"Anyone ever fall off?" I asked the guide as he pointed out the deep vertical drop 5 feet away from the path where we finally ended our scramble.

"No, no gringo fall, no gringo loco" he said.

We got the comment... No tourists were stupid enough scramble down the side of the mountain.

We had no idea how we had lost our way but were glad to have ended the decent and headed to the bakery for fresh empanadas and a bus back to Cusco.

Trekking in the footsteps of the Incas

The 4 day trek to Machu Picchu was one which we had been looking forward to for a long time. Finally our luck seemed to have turned around. The landslide which had closed parts of the trail was fixed 2 days before we started the trek and we were told that we would be able to complete the trek without the disappointing detour which others who had done the trek recently were forced to do.

The trek starts off in a lush mountain valley. There were 11 trekkers and 16 porters. The porters were the ones with the tough job. These locals carried massive sacks of gear on their backs and not in top of the line backpacks either. Plain but sturdy sacks were strapped roughly to their backs with ropes and traditional Peruvian blankets. Once loaded up, they ran off down the trail ahead of us so that they could arrive first and setup camp for us.

The trek was a difficult one up mountains and over 3 passes but it was stunning. We passed ruins from Incan cities tucked into the mountainous valleys as we huffed and puffed through the high altitude trek.

Despite the physical strain of the 4 day trek, I couldn't help but feel pampered. Meals were always very big and all of the work which normally accompanied camping, like setting up tents, cleaning and packing was done for us. All we needed to do was to trek from one site to the next.

Considering how exhausted we were after each trek, I was happy to not have to do all of the camping work which I had assumed we would have to do.

The climax of the trek came on the 4th day. We awoke at 4am and trekked 2 hours in the dark to reach the sun gate. From the ancient stone gate we could finally see what we had all trekked 4 days to see, Machu Picchu.

The ruins, perched atop a mountain and surrounded by a deep valley and lush green hills was worth the sweat it took to reach it.

It was hard to imagine that this fort was once a major Incan town bustling with activity. Seeing as we had arrived early only a few dozens of other tourists buzzed around, it wasn't until 11am that the site would be flooded with day-trippers who'd taken the train from Cusco to visit.

We ended our trek with celebratory drinks with our new friends and headed back to Cusco one day early for some much needed down time.
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